As evidenced by McDermotts National Book Award winner, Charming Billy, few authors are as good as she is at making the ordinary extraordinary. Her new novel opens with a young Marie meeting free-spirited Pegeen, who declares herself an amadan (a fool) and thereafter tumbles down a stairs, signaling the unexpected falls we fools all take. Through World War II and beyond, from Maries marriage to her parents death and her brother the priests loss of faith, McDermott tracks one emblematic life.
A fully realized portrait of one womans life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award-winning author
An ordinary life--its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion--lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of "Someone," Alice McDermotts extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of "After This." Scattered recollections--of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age--come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermotts deft, lyrical voice.
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an "amadan," a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermotts novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
Maries first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brothers brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents deaths; the births and lives of Maries children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn--McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.